Sunday, 5 October 2014

Bath Time

Sketch of Waller Street public baths from Borough Engineer’s plan, December 1910 [X558/6/108/4]

Monday 5th October 1914: We reported last week on the difficulties soldiers were experiencing as a result of living in unhygienic conditions. This matter was discussed at a meeting of the Luton Board of Guardians today. It was said that most of the cases involved soldiers who had been sleeping in sheds and there was concern that there was little point in fumigating the men’s clothes while they were still living in the same conditions. The Mayor of Luton thought it would help if all the men had a bath and a clean shirt every week. He also pointed out that the soldiers were able to have free access to the swimming baths on certain days, but that this offer had not been taken up. Wardown Park was partly closed to civilians in the mornings so that soldiers could bathe in the lake but again this was little used, as was the offer of a private bath at the new Waller Street bath for 2d instead of the usual 4d.

When one of the Guardians, Mr Impey, said that the men affected were mostly from Stopsley and Dunstable district the Dunstable representatives protested, as did Mr B Hartop of Stopsley who said that there were none of “these things” in his premises until the men came. The suggestion was made that farmers were billeting men in fowl houses. In Mr Hartop's view this was a “a most idiotic thing to say”. 

On further investigation it appears that between August 31st and September 25th two and a half thousand solders had used the swimming bath free of charge.

Source: Luton News 8.10.1914

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